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James Davies's 1877 steering apparatus patent model

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James Davies's 1877 steering apparatus patent model
Smithsonian Institution, Photo by Richard Strauss, Negative #: 2006-9753


This object appears in the following sections:

Marine Patent Models — Complete Catalog: 1876-1880

Marine Patent Models — Steering the Way

Auxiliary steering gear patent model
Catalog #: 308,555, Accession #: 89,797
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection

"My invention relates to a contrivance to assist the helmsman in swinging the rudder laterally against the resistance offered by the water," James Davies wrote in 1877. "It consists in the combination of a pivoted cylinder containing a spring and a piston, the latter connected with the tiller." When the tiller is turned, and the rudder encounters pressure from the water rushing past it, Davies's spring and piston counteract the water's force. Because the device does not work when the vessel is backing-the spring would work with the pressure of the water rather than against it-Davies provided a pin along the side of the cylinder to block the spring.

Physical Description

Brass lever and piston on a wood base, 8" L x 5 1/2" W x 2 1/2" H.

Date Made:
Transfer from the U.S. Patent Office

James Davies was a resident of Liverpool, England. He may also have patented this steering gear in the United Kingdom.


James Davies, Auxiliary Steering-Gear, U.S. patent no. 194,658, Aug. 28, 1877.

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